U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), members of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, introduced a pair of bills – the Puppy Protection Act [HR 4693] and the Welfare of Our Friends (WOOF!) Act [HR 4691] – to provide better protection for man’s best friend by improving standards for federally licensed commercial dog breeders.
“The Bible teaches us to care for all of God’s creatures, and that includes man’s best friend,”said Crist.“I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation that protects dogs from unprincipled dealers and breeders, providing a voice for the voiceless.”
“It’s crucial we stand up for animals—both as individuals and as a society. That means strengthening important regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to meet this goal,” said Fitzpatrick. “As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates federally licensed commercial dog breeders that sell dogs wholesale to retail pet stores or commercial brokers, or directly to consumers over the internet under the Animal Welfare Act. While the Animal Welfare Act is meant to ensure dogs in federally licensed facilities are treated humanely, the current regulations fall far short. The Puppy Protection Act creates stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, breeding practices, and specific standards for socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs. It will not impact family pets, livestock, or hobbyist breeders.
The WOOF! Act would prohibit the USDA from issuing commercial breeding licenses to individuals or shell companies directly connected to dealers of dogs who have had their licenses suspended or revoked. This common-sense legislation prohibits those who have violated the Animal Welfare Act from using loopholes to continue selling animals commercially. Like the Puppy Protection Act, the bill will not impact family pets, livestock, or hobbyist breeders.
What they’re saying about the Puppy Protection Act and the Welfare of Our Friends (WOOF!) Act:
Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO - Humane Society of the United States: “No dog should spend her entire life in a tiny cage, her paws never touching grass, outside and exposed to frigid temperatures and winds, and bred so relentlessly that her body eventually wears out. Some puppy mill operators game the system and register their mill under a different name after they are cited for animal welfare violations. These two bills will prevent that trickery and also strengthen the standards of care for hundreds of thousands of dogs on commercial breeding facilities.”
Matt Bershadker, President & CEO – ASPCA: “The bills introduced by Representatives Fitzpatrick and Crist would significantly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs kept in inhumane conditions by federally licensed commercial breeders. These animals often spend their entire lives in filthy, crowded cages stacked on top of one another with no access to adequate veterinary care or regular exercise. Even when a breeder’s license is revoked for violating these notoriously weak federal standards, they too often continue breeding animals by hiding their business under a family member’s name. We thank Representatives Fitzpatrick and Crist for their leadership on these measures to enhance animal welfare enforcement and improve standards of care to reduce cruelty and suffering for dogs in commercial breeding facilities."